Trusts & Estates

Problems with DIY Estate Planning

Last Will and Testament document

It may appear to be cheaper to draft your own estate planning documents, but mistakes in those documents could be very costly to your heirs and have unintended results.

  • Unintended disinheritance.  Failing to understand the distinction between probate and non-probate assets may result in leaving your assets in a manner inconsistent with your wishes. Some assets pass under your last will and testament while other assets pass by operation of law or pursuant to specific beneficiary designations.  A properly drafted will takes both types of assets into account to ensure that your estate plan complies with your wishes.
  • Failure to follow statutory formalities for execution.  Every state, including Virginia, has specific requirements on how to properly execute a last will and testament.  Failing to follow these formalities could  invalidate your entire will.  Virginia has rules regarding who must witness the will, the number of people who must witness the will and rules surrounding a self-proving affidavit.
  • No contingencies.  Drafting your own will could fail to prepare for certain future events.  A properly drafted last will and testament will identify what should occur if a child predeceases you, if you have children after your will is drafted, and how your assets should be divided in the event you are separated or divorced.
  • One size fits none. Most online wills are vanilla and do not contain many options.  Form wills must be simple to follow and understand and therefore fail to address the specific needs that you may  have.  Family specific issues are not addressed in form documents.  The needs of a single man are very different from the needs of an elderly couple with grown children.

Drafting your own estate planning documents is a risky endeavor.  This process is serious and should be conducted by an estate planning attorney with specialized education and training.  Meet with one of the attorneys at Poole Brooke Plumlee PC to draft an accurate, specific and legal compliant estate plan today.


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